Missoula Couple's 1-month Old Daughter Survives Open Heart Surge - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Missoula Couple's 1-month Old Daughter Survives Open Heart Surgery

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MISSOULA - A Missoula couple can breathe a sigh of relief, after their one-month old daughter survives a battle with a rare heart condition.

Sandi and Dustin Henderson have spent the past two months at Seattle Children's Hospital with their daughter Clara, who had to have open-heart surgery when she was just two days old.

At just one-month old, Clara Henderson has survived more than most people do in a lifetime. Clara has a rare heart condition called pulmonary stenosis.

"The pulmonary valve in her heart was too narrow," Sandi Henderson said.

In short, Clara's blood flow from her heart to her lungs was too slow. Henderson said her doctors discovered the problem when she was 14 weeks pregnant.

Henderson had to leave Missoula to deliver Clara at the University of Washington Hospital, before Clara was quickly transported to Seattle Children's Hospital.

"If we had not been here, she most likely would not have made it," she said.

One day later, Clara underwent open heart surgery.

"They cut her sternum with a saw, and they put her on the bypass machine, and it took about six hours," Henderson said.

Clara made it through the procedure, but her vitals were rapidly declining.

"Her heart rate was way too high and her blood pressure was way too low, and her blood was incredibly acidic."

It was then, that the Hendersons received some devastating news from one of Clara's doctors, they would have to put her on an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO machine, if Clara didn't get better within a few hours.

"She said, if we come to you and start talking about putting her on ECMO, it's because she's going to die."

So, the Hendersons stood over their baby's bed all night long, hoping and praying her vitals would improve.

"We talked to her about our family, and the things that we like to do, and the carousel, and Big Dipper because it's the best ice cream."

Then, very slowly, Clara improved. She's improved so much, that the Hendersons can finally return home to Missoula at the end of the week. Henderson says this experience has re-calibrated her family's life.

"You just look at everything differently and your approach, and how to do those things," she said.

Clara will have to undergo more surgeries in the future. The Hendersons also have two other children.

Close friends of the Hendersons have organized a campaign to raise funds for Clara's medical procedures.

Rebekah Little and Amber Johnson say Sandi Henderson is part of their "sisterhood."

Little and Johnson have organized a massive yard sale that starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, and all proceeds will go to the Hendersons. They wanted to support their close friend and her family while they went through such a tough time.

"The emotional and mental struggle to see your daughter suffering like that, but also to be away from your older children and your normal life and your job, and not to know what's going to happen when you get home."

Johnson and Little have also set up the website loveforclara.com, which is connected to a YouCaring.org page for online monetary donations for the Hendersons. On Monday, the duo are encouraging people on Instagram to use the hashtag "#loveforclara" on posts of handmade goods for sale.

Proceeds will go to the Hendersons.

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